Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chilling at the beach

Here are just a couple of photos taken with my blackberry early yesterday morning when I took Connor for a walk along the beach at Maraetai. I need to go out on a photo session with my DSLR camera early in the morning as this is a beautiful part of the world. My mother-in-law has a house out here so we have taken it over for a week or so and chilling out by walking, reading, sleeping and basically doing not much. Wishing you all a lovely holiday season too and I hope you are getting some chilling time too xxx.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This is Emily. She is the 3 year old daughter of my friend Michelle, and maybe my future daughter-in-law? My 3 year old son is pretty keen on her and as he watched me draw this yesterday, he kept on smiling as he referred to "my Emily, my friend Emily" and they were holding hands at the beach on Saturday!

We took lots of photos and when I saw the one that this one was based on I knew I just had to draw it. Luckily my two children arranged circumstances so I didn't have to work yesterday and today by both coming down with a bug so I managed to draw this while looking after two sick kiddies yesterday.

Just as well that I got it done yesterday as today I have two recovering munchkins, who while are not well enough for daycare, are well enough to create WW III and WW IV in the living room between each other today. Unfortunately nothing can be shared today between the two of them, including their mummy. After being fought over most of the day, I decided I needed a coffee break from them so got my book and my coffee and sat outside with the door open where I could hear them but they couldn't get to me. I then had to repeatedly explain that I was having a break. When they want to join you and have a "break" too, how do you explain to a 2 year old and a 3 year old that you really want the break from them?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WIP - figures

After all my great intentions about no longer neglecting my poor little blog, the last month has gone by in a whirl of work and everything else. I have not been feeding my soul and began to feel overwhelmed with everything that I have to do and not fulfilling my own needs. I have a bad habit of putting those things I love like reading fiction and art down on the priority list when I have a lot on. However that doesn't work. If I am not feeding my soul, I can't give what I need to all the urgency's in my life.

So yesterday I started these two figures. I have completed the under painting of the male figure and once that is dry I will glaze colour. The woman is only drawn up but I quickly did the background this morning as I want to be able to work on these concurrently.

It felt so incredibly good to paint and the hours just flew by and before I knew it 10pm was showing on my watch. I'm pretty happy with the foreshortening on the hand as I was a little nervous about that but tried to focus on tone with no acknowledgement of what I was painting and it worked.

I'll update in a few days when I make some more progress....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Searching for Authenticity

WIP Oil on canvas

One of the exciting things about being an artist in the early stages is the freedom to play around, try new styles and techniques and embark on a process of discovery. On the flip side, it is trying to find the balance between experimentation and artistic development while maintaining my authenticity. The non-judgemental part of me enjoys the experimenting while another part of me wonders how I can create an artist brand if I am changing and inconsistent with the type of art I do.

I think I have touched on this before, my struggle to go down any one direction. I love oils and I love the glazing, the detail, the flow that you get with them. I get lost in almost a meditative trance when I am painting in oils and can spend hours lost in blending and detail. Then again the abstract resin works I have done are so much fun. It is pure colour and play and while I don't get trance-like with it, it is a fun break from everyday work as I can head into the studio and throw another glaze on in 5 minutes and then have to leave it again to dry. So those works are done in many many stages which fits in well with two small children and two businesses.

Then again I love pencils and drawing and getting into detail detail detail and I get completely lost in time with drawing. And what about mixed media (like Soar) - that is fun and crafty and also satisfies some part of me.

So to be authentic to me and my journey as an artist, I think I need to continue with my play and experimentation as every type of art I do satisfies me and brings me joy on some level. It is about the process for me and I don't want to think about branding if that limits me. I just want to be me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


This piece is about letting who you truly are, soar. To fulfill everything that you can be, to see possibilities and to shine.

When I stroke my children's faces as they drift off to sleep, I tell them they are perfect exactly how they are, that they can do anything they want to in life, and that they are completely and utterly perfect being who they truly are. When they are in that sleepy half awake/half asleep stage, they are so receptive to being told this and when I ask my son if he knows how truly perfect he is, he whispers yes with a smile and closed eyes.

We tend to lose that sense of truly knowing ourselves when we grow up, and what a loss that is. My children are now 2 and 3 and I know it will break my heart when I see things happen in their life that makes them question how perfect they are, how amazing they are, and that they have the ability to soar. I feel that now in my thirties, I am trying to remember who I really am and I am so excited about life and possibilities and big big dreams most of the time. But sometimes those doubts creep in and I think who am I to think I could do this.

That is when I think of Marianne Williamson's amazing piece of prose and think who am I not to be.

This piece is a reminder to soar, that when you are truly you, you can't do anything else but soar. It is mixed media on canvas with 4 layers of resin with different pieces embedded in different levels so is quite three dimensional in person.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My deepest apologies to my dearest blog...

My dear blog,

I humbly apologise for the neglect I have shown you for the last few months. I have been alive and busy (very busy) and due to some external factors (like a laptop that had to be repaired twice) and some internal factors (not putting you up on my priority list), I have neglected you. But now I am back. Here is some proof of my busyness.....I have been taking photos of pretty flowers....

....and playing with resin and layers of mixed media (this is still a WIP with several more layers to go)....

...and hanging artwork at Cafe Apollo finally....

...and it looked good!

I have spent a lot of time chasing this fearless little girl......

...and watching her discover the world........

...while enjoying the dog obsession this wee dude has (he currently has to sleep with his "pack" of about 8 soft toy dogs including his mangy Hairy (who is almost hairless now from love)...

.....and answering the questions a dozen times a day of "What's this Mummy?".
So as you can see life is busy. My Possibility business is soon to launch and I have been doing consulting work for a shoe retailer (which is why my children now have enough shoes to last the next few years as I find it hard to ignore clearance sales).
So please forgive me blog, I do humbly apologise and I would like to say that I'm back!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Charcoal portrait

Today was a "mummy" day which sometimes means I get the chance to draw as my kids love seeing me draw and they can draw at the same time.

I was going through photos on my laptop trying to figure out what I was going to draw and I came across this photo of my son's best friend. Last Friday at his friend's house, we convinced the boys (with bribes of course) to dress up for some photos and Carter was a fireman while his best friend was a pirate.

So here is Ryan in his pirate glory. I toned the paper first this time which I quite enjoyed working with rather than having a pristine white background. It does look better in real life and it is bigger than A4 so the scanner didn't capture it all. I'll have to see now if Ryan's mother likes it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Some of you may have noticed that my posting has been sporadic as of late. One of the big reasons for that is I have been working hard on getting everything ready to launch my business in a few months time. I know that I have mentioned little pieces about it, but I now have my confirmed logo designed by Karen Rubado (see above - isn't it beautiful) and feel like I am close to being ready so I now feel good about talking about it to you all.

The name of my business is (as you can probably guess) Possibility Ltd. My main focus initially will be career coaching, recruitment and interview skills and CV development with life coaching added early next year. I am half way through my Diploma in Life Coaching which I am thoroughly enjoying and about to start taking some clients which is exceptionally exciting (and just a little bit scary) as well. In the more far off future, I would love to add creativity workshops as well as that would just be so so much fun.

It took me a long time to come up with the name for this business and I absolutely love Possibility. I wanted something that stood for my values and beliefs about how we can all have a great life and I think Possibility sums that up for me. It makes me so sad to see so many people feel they are completely trapped, that they can't move on from a job they hate because of things like financial commitments, status etc and who are so unhappy. I think we are supposed to be happy in our life and the work we do has a major impact on us and how we feel about ourselves and every aspect of our life.

For me, balance is incredibly important. I love being a mum and wife, being an artist and being a businesswoman. I need those areas to all be fulfilled to have that balance. And though I am probably working harder and more hours than I have ever done before in my life, I am so energised and excited about it and it feels so good that I can share the knowledge and experience that I gained in all my years in Human Resources to help enable people to make changes in their life and have the skills and knowledge to be able to make these changes.

Going through all the thinking and planning for this new business is also making me re-assess other parts of my life, e.g. what this blog is actually all about and what I want to communicate here. I'm still thinking about that but watch for some changes coming soon...

Have a fabulous day!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trying out Derwint tinted charcoal

Tonight I tried out a small tin of Derwent Tinted Charcoal that I bought over a year ago and then stashed away in my studio cupboard and promptly forgot about. After playing with the red chalk pencil this afternoon on Tayla's portrait, I had a memory trigger that I did have something like that and I found them.

I wasn't terribly experimental with the colours tonight, but they are lovely and velvety to use and I did this with a white chalk pencil, a tinted grey charcoal pencil and a tinted dark blue/black charcoal pencil.

Incidentally this angel belongs to an old gravestone that I drive past frequently. This gravestone is right at the top of a graveyard on a hill with it's back to the road and for months I drove past wanting to photograph it so I could draw or paint it as I find it so beautiful. A few weeks back, kids were in daycare, and I knew I was driving past there for a meeting so I left early and took my camera and took a number of photos. The sun was very bright that day so I would like to go back when it was more overcast to get more subtlety.

The reason I drew this tonight was as a study for a painting. I have an idea about incorporating this into a large work so I also prepared a canvas tonight so I am hoping to draw it out on there tomorrow. I must say, this was supposed to be a study and I spent about 3 hours on it, but it was thoroughly enjoyable and I am really pleased with the outcome. The picture isn't nearly as good as what it looks like in real life but you get the idea.

Portrait - Carbon pencil and chalk

Yay for lazy Sunday afternoons! I finally finished this portrait of Tayla and because I wasn't so happy with progress just with the carbon pencil, I used some red chalk as well which I kind of like. Makes it a little softer I think.

We had a great weekend with the kids having an over-nighter at the grandparents so DH and I got to both sleep in. I thought I would still wake up at 6am, but didn't and actually slept through to 9am which was just lovely. The house seemed ridiculously quiet without two toddlers about and this morning I managed to finish a book with no interruptions and have a generally lazy time. Yay for grandparents.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Exhibition Photos

Here is a photo of my pieces at the current annual NZ Art Guild Exhibition. Photo was taken by Helen Sherrock who graciously allowed me to borrow it for this blog given I forgot my camera on opening night.

I sold the three small ones on the night which was fantastic and I have all sorts of ideas swirling around in my head at the moment for the next type of series with resin and colour.

Tonight I will hand over my laptop to my 16 year old stepson so he and his father can play computer games against each other, and with the temptation to surf the net and read blogs taken away from me, I will head into my studio (albeit with a heater as it is pretty cold at the moment), put on some good music (loving Christine Kane right now) and paint.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ngatahi - my other image

Now that Ngatahi has been revealed, I can reveal my other painting I did for this. It was a fairly critical piece with the top of the South Island and the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand so I didn't want to post it prior to Ngatahi being unveiled as anyone that knows the shape of NZ would probably pick it out.

Trying to come up with a way of keeping the islands plus creating an artwork was hard with this piece and I ended up coming across a photo of some lilies in my electronic files and realised I could make them fit so that is what I did.

Anyway, I am working at the moment (yes on a Sunday evening) so need to stop my 5 minute blogging break and get back to some HR work.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tayla - WIP carbon pencil

My little girl is growing up. She will be 2 this September and everyday both her and her brother astound me with new words, new levels of comprehension and their imagination. They both draw draw draw all the time and I am constantly buying more colour pencils for them. For some reason they like to chew on and eat crayons so coloured pencils work best for them. And I can tell you that little pieces of crayon make it all the way to the other end!

On Sunday I started a new portrait of Tayla based on some photos I took that morning. The eye isn't right and needs to be fixed and I am hoping to get some more time at this one today as Wednesday is one of my Mummy/Artist days. The kids love seeing me draw although I am always scared they might try and improve my work with their pencils so I never leave a half-completed drawing anywhere near them. They love seeing the drawings and paintings of themselves though. They will think it normal to grow up surrounded by depictions of them at every age and stage.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ngatahi unveiled

I have just got home from the opening night of the annual NZ Art Guild Exhibition which was also the unveiling of Ngatahi (the collaborative project) and a charity art auction for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

As you can see above, this is Ngatahi and it is beautiful. It is large - 1.3 m x 1.3m and was sold tonight in the auction along with 14 other artworks that had been donated. All up nearly $7000 was raised for the MHF which is fabulous.

On a side note, I sold 3 out of my 4 pieces that I have in the exhibition tonight which was great. Would be even better if the fourth piece sells over the next month while the exhibition runs.

The pieces that sold were from my resin series which is great because I was interested in seeing the reaction to them in a public forum. It is so hard to photograph these as they are so textured with transparent glazes that in real life they are completely different. So I am really pleased with the sales tonight!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ngatahi unveiling, art auction and exhibition opening

The NZ Art Guild and the Mental Health Foundation would like to formally invite you to

"Out of the Blue" Charity Art Auction and Exhibition Opening night: Thursday 2nd July 2009 at 6:30pm - Free entry - All welcome Venue: Bruce Mason Centre, Cnr Hurstmere Rd and the Promenade,Takapuna Beach, Auckland Exhibition Open: 2nd - 30th July 2009. Mon to Fri 9 - 5 & Sat 10 - 4

Featuring the NZ Art Guild 2009 Collaborative Art Project "Ngatahi" a fantastic, single artwork created by 61 artists which will be revealed on opening night and auctioned off at this one of a kind, not to missed charity event

Well known NZ artists - Nancy Frazer, Sophia Elise, Tanya Dann, Beate Minderjahn, Jennifer Christiansen, Julia Dungan, LisaSarah, Natahsa Wheeler, Alison Mulgrew, Jane Bold and Terri Dangen - have also donated fantastic artworks which will auctioned.

100% of the proceeds from the art auction will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

To coincide with this event 42 artists from around NZ will be having a month long exhibition of original, diverse artworks depicting "Our Country, Our People, Our Culture"

We would be delighted if you would join us in the opening celebrations of this fantastic charity event - please forward this invitation on to your friends, family, colleagues or anyone else who may be interested. For full details about this event and to view the auction catalogue go to http://www.nzartguild.co.nz/ and click on the MHF Charity Auction button.Or take a virtual tour http://www.gallerycentric.com/ (sponsored by Gallery Centric)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Creative Dreaming

For some reason I am waking up each morning with all these creative dreams swirling in my head. Not just for painting or drawing but all sorts of things. This morning I could see children's t-shirts with screen-prints on them whereas the other day it was women's skirts with layers and embellishments and all sorts. It is inspiring me to try some new things and I really really want to find a screen-printing course as I think that would be heaps of fun.

And if you ever wanted to know how to get a dog to patiently pose for 30 odd photos - hold a tiny teddy biscuit up by the lens and you get some beautiful shots.
Connor will be 8 years old this September and was not my favourite being in the world this morning, nor our cat's favourite being. Yesterday I ran out of cat food so I dragged myself out to the supermarket in the dark and in the rain last night and got a box with 12 pouches in it. Put them on a shelf in the garage about 1.2m up. This morning when Lucy (the cat) summoned the servant (me) to feed her, I found an empty box on the floor to my bemusement. Then I turned to my studio part of the garage with the carpet on the floor to find 12 foil packets of cat food ripped open and completely cleaned out of anything resembling food. So obviously my lovely dog decided he needed a midnight snack last night so decided to get nice and comfy on my carpet to tear open each individual packet to fullfil his need.
And for those of you that say dogs don't remember when they have done wrong - that is a load of crock. When the dog bounds down the stairs with you, gets to the bottom and then suddenly starts slinking and crawling - you know he's done something and has just remembered it. Normally Connor is a really well-behaved dog but when it comes to food, I think he decides the punishment is worth it. And today he is being punished by having to stay home with me and the kids while his father goes to work without him. However given my children's tendency to ensure he gets well fed with anything they don't want, it probably isn't a major punishment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

WIP - Figure in oils

It is a glorious sunny winter's day here in Auckland (yet again) which is such a change from the constant rain we normally get in winter. It does mean that it is colder but I can live with that. I have just had a blissful hour and a half in the studio while my children sleep. That is a biggie this week as naptime has been a battle most days with my son who is going through a stage at the moment (if you read between the lines a "stage" means lots and lots of tantrums as part of the terrible two's).

Normally on a sunny day I like to have the garage door up and sit in the sun to paint, but it is too cold today so instead I had the fan heater at my feet and my ipod on and painted to Wycliff Jean then Tracy Chapman and it was great.

I still have a long long way to go on this one but I am enjoying the slow process of building up the form - it almost feels like I am trying to sculpt it and each time I have a crack at this one, I build her up just a little bit more. I still don't know how I will do the background. I just threw some red paint on today just to see how that would work and I quite like that so I think she will stay sitting on something red but it might look a look different to this. It is a fairly large painting as you can see from my easel (which is not a small easel) in the photo but I am really enjoying the journey with this one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tayla's portrait in oils - finished

I finally had a session on this last Friday and managed to finish it. Reasonably happy with it but look forward to future improvements with portraits. I think you just have to do it and each time it gets better (except for the odd one in between which gets thrown out).

Last night my little girl was diagnosed with asthma so that is something that we will be keeping a close eye on. We don't know yet if she will get it mild or bad, so I am just really grateful that my husband is an asthmatic because he picked it up last night when it was a gentle wheeze when I thought it was just a blocked nose. The Doctor said that not many parents pick it up so quickly as he did so I am really grateful for that. I spent the night on a mattress in the kids room so I could listen to her breathing during the night, so needless to say I didn't sleep well, even though she did. I am also grateful that we live in a very warm dry house.

So lots of life challenges going on at the moment which must be all happening for a reason - I would just like to know some of the reasons now rather than waiting for the clarity of hindsight. The Life Coaching Diploma I am currently completing is really great for enforcing some self-reflection. We have to work through the process ourselves that we will use with clients, so that is really interesting and why I am looking for the connections of why things happen, especially when the same type of challenge happens over and over again where there is obviously a lesson to be learnt - I just need to figure out what.

But the sun is shining and it is a crystal clear winter's day here in Auckland - cold, but preferable to the warmer rainy weather that we otherwise get, so while the kids are sleeping (not that they have dropped off yet), I am going to lie in the sun on the couch and listen to my ipod - Bliss.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Almost finished - Tayla's portrait

I had a good session on Tayla's portrait today and I think one more session will finish it. I still need some final glazes on her face to get the skintone right and the eyes need more work (including adding eyelashes) and the clothes need some more work as well. I'm not happy with the hair either - I think some of the problem with that is that in the photo her hair has quite a reddish strawberry tinge but in real life she is a real wee blondie now so I will play around with that some more.

Felt so damn good to get a brush into oil paint again though......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I am hungry - I want to paint and I want to draw and I want to create.

Today is the first day I have felt well in a week. My husband and I were struck down with a horrendous bug and were very very sick. Was a slow process to feel better each day and manage something more than a supplies trip to the supermarket. Today I feel good and I have just meandered around in my studio, moving things around, putting things away in preparation for fulfilling this hunger I have to create. I am craving it, I want a pencil in my hand, I want to be mixing colours with oil paint (isn't oil paint just the yummiest texture ever).

There are so many other priorities that are calling me right now - things that didn't get completed while I was sick, so I won't start anything right this minute even though the pull is so so strong, but perhaps, just perhaps, if I do some of what I have to do and tick off some of the to do list, tonight might be the night to put the heater on, pull on my apron and paint.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

resin resin resin

Another week has passed (flown by) and life is full. Highlights included my first teleconference for the life coaching diploma I have started and my hometown rugby team (the Canterbury Crusaders) winning their match against the Auckland Blues last night. Even though this year will mark a decade living in Auckland, once you are a Cantab, you can never ever ever support Auckland in any sport. Just gets ingrained in you if you are raised in Christchurch. Must be something in the water (which is a damn sight tastier than Auckland water - must be those provincial pride additives they sneak in).

Lowlights involved being a bit concerned about Carter as he is looking pale at the moment but the Dr has ruled out anything serious being wrong and we are off to the Naturopath this week as I think it is food intolerance's again. He has a sensitive system like his mother.

This piece above is the largest resin piece to go into Cafe Apollo (hopefully this week) when I do the next swap around. I have some extra pieces left to resin but most are done and all ready to go except for titles. Think I will be placing them all around the walls and throwing names at them to see what sticks. They look so pretty all stacked together with the glossiness of the resin and the different colours. Lots of small ones, so will be interesting to see if they sell in this market (the market where a huge amount of people have not been directly affected financially in any way but are so hooked into what "the media" says that they have changed their spending behaviour and actually dragging NZ into this recession). Soapbox speech over. Talk soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ngatahi - NZ Art Giuld collaborative project 2009

Each year the NZ Art Guild does a collaborative project which is made up of a number of small pieces by individual artists which all together form one larger image. This year I will once again be painting 2 pieces for this, and this is one of them. I can't show the other piece yet as it is a critical piece for the overall image and I think it would let the cat out of the bag so to speak if I did.

This is Shag Rock, down on Sumner beach in Christchurch. The title of the Collaborative project is Ngatahi (which means Together in Maori) and the theme is Our Land. Christchurch is where I grew up and this particular beach has many memories for me from my childhood, teenagehood and adulthood. So it is a part of this beautiful country that I love dearly. I also love the ocean and I think with New Zealand being so small and narrow, that going to the beach is part of life. I find it hard to comprehend when I think about people who live in the middle of large land-locked countries who potentially may never experience the ocean in their lives and I feel grateful that it is part of mine.

This year, the entire proceeds from the auction of Ngatahi will be going to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand which is a fantastic charity to support. Also, my lovely husband will be assisting Sophia Elise (Manager of the NZ Art Guild ) and I with doing the practical building of the frame for this. Damn useful being married to a builder. Tomorrow I will be heading over to Sophia's to do the initial putting together of Ngatahi. I can't wait to see all the small paintings that have been sent back. They are all 150 x 150mm.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

and why you should never have a white duvet when you have a black dog

Just a quick photo taken with my blackberry when I headed up to bed the other night. Why I bought a white duvet, I just don't know. I think it was better to be in blissful ignorance of just how much dog hair there is, rather than all the extra washing I do now in my battle to rid myself of black dog hairs from our bed linen.

I know, we could kick him off the bed, but he is getting older (8 this year) and it is getting colder and we are soft.

life is good!

It is May, almost half way through the year and life is busy and great. I am juggling lots of things at the moment and managing those successfully by being slack in some other areas, ie updating my blog. However I have just had a really good session during nap time when I resined 6 pieces - 4 small, 1 medium and 1 large.

As the resin is currently setting and will probably take a bit longer than normal due to how colddddddd (teeth chattering) it is here in Auckland today, I had to take some photos of the pieces lying down but you can get the picture.

After I resined, I got some more work done on Tayla's portrait. This is a very ugly stage and there is heaps and heaps to do on this, but I thought you might be interested in the progress. I did the background today because it is heaps easier to do the hair after the background is laid in as I learnt from Carter's portrait that green hair just doesn't work.
My new business is all coming along really really well and I am immersed in research and workshop development. I start a diploma in Life Coaching next week as well to provide additional skills for my career coaching programme and I am so excited about that. I hope to have a website developed and up and running in the near future for my business.
Art is still happening, but it is my relaxer (if I can invent a word) rather than my work. I truly believe it is so important to have passions and art is that for me, but this new direction I am going with my business is also a passion and I don't feel that either is exclusive to the other. In fact, feeling inspired and fulfilled by my art, my work and my family brings me my balance and it is really important to me that I maintain that as I am determined not to lose it after searching for it for so many years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grisaille underpainting in oil - portrait of Tayla

It has almost been 2 weeks since I last posted! Life is busy and good and while I have been working on several resin pieces, they are waiting to be resined so not at a great stage to take photos off.

However today (while my lovely children were supposed to be asleep) I started this grisaille underpainting of Tayla so that I can have the matching pair to go with Carter's one. Actually the Tayla in question was sound asleep while I was doing this, however her brother has since woken her up and has had no sleep at all and I can currently hear the "conversations" going on in their bedroom through the baby monitor while I type this.

Here is it next to Carter's portrait so I could check size wise and composition wise that they will match. Sorry about the glare it is a beautiful sunny day today so the garage door is open so sun can stream in. As it is supposed to be Autumn and raining today, I am enjoying the sun.

I will do some more work on this underpainting before I start the glazes, I just want this initial layer to dry first. Will keep you posted.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cat picture with kids artwork

Just a quickie to show the cat picture I did to match the elephant that I posted recently. For the elephant I used a template from Sarah Jane Studios but for this one I drew my own template, asking my children for approval. It is now hanging above Tayla's cot to match the elephant hanging over Carter's cot. The frame is an 11" x 14" and the picture itself minus matting is A4 so they are decent sized pictures. The kids loved that I was using their artwork.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oil portrait - Carter - completed!

Here it is, the final completed painting of Carter. It is 300 x 300 x 40mm. Took me a few months but I am pretty happy with it, especially as it is my first completed portrait in oils.

I've taken some photos at various points so I thought I would post them here as there definitely were some ugly stages that this one went through (even though the subject matter is exceptionally beautiful and I am not biased at all).

Here is the original grisaille underpainting. I did this with burnt umber and solvent just to focus on the tonal side of things, mainly with his face. I didn't really bother with the hair.

Once that was dry I started with the glazes. Initially these were all transparent and I was trying to remember to keep the red ones on the cheeks and the yellow on the forehead.

Then when I did my first glaze with titanium white with liquin, all of a sudden he looked like a ghost and I think that was when I got scared and left it for 3 months.
I am now trying to find a photo of Tayla so that she can be my next subject. I am tossing up whether to do the next one with a grisaille underpainting as well or try it without. I did find that his skin did end up really luminous which is what I wanted and I think that may be because of all the layers of glazes.
It is interesting to look back at these stages and it does encourage me to keep the faith when they are going through the ugly stages!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Some progress on Carter's oil portrait

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall back in December last year, I undertook a grisaille underpainting for a portrait of Carter. I then did a number of glazes on his face then got too scared to go any further in case I wrecked it. So it has been hanging on the wall of my studio since December untouched.

Last night, I really felt like painting, I prepared a large canvas for a figure composition I have worked out but as I couldn't do anything more on that, I decided to just go for it with Carter's portrait and I had a really good session and ended up going to bed far too late.

I am really pleased how this is coming along now and I have got over my fear of stuffing up. That is really paralysing and I think that particular fear is one that stops people from really living their passions and dreams. I've been really looking at my self-development over the past few months and last night I didn't even think that I could stuff this up, I just got into it and loved the process without that fear and worry which probably impacts performance when you do fall into that trap.

I just tried to have another crack at it now but the background is still wet so he started getting green hair which is not that ideal, so I am looking forward to refining the last of his face and the hair (which needs a fair bit of work). The lips are a bit too red too so they need to be toned down as well. I do love how the skin is really luminous in real life and I think that is from the grisaille underpainting and then the glazes upon glazes.

So in the word's of Nike "just do it". I'm glad I did and I can't wait to finish it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I have not been doing any of my own art over the past week as life, children and business are keeping me busy, however yesterday I finally did this cool elephant from Sarah Jane Studios. She kindly has offered up the templates for the elephant, a seal and a sparrow for personal use. You use your child's artwork for the animal. On re-reading the instructions today, I actually did this the wrong way, as you are supposed to cut out the shape from the child's artwork and stick that on white paper. Instead I did a trick of my husband's which was to not read the instructions and I cut out the shape on white watercolour paper and then stuck the artwork behind.

I came across Sarah Jane's work on the Nesting blog which gives me lots of inspiration decorating wise for houses and kid's stuff so if you are that way inclined, check out Nesting as well.

I just loved these animals though and what a cool way to preserve all those masterpieces that your kids come home with. Carter was very taken with this and it is now hanging over his bed. I just need to do one for Tayla now. She is into dogs, so I might have to make my own template for that one. The white frame and mat looks great in the kids room as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Well at least I tried...

I started a herbal detox on Monday and after the third consecutive day of pounding headaches and extreme tiredness I quit this afternoon. I would like to finish it but I need to function as well. So today, Wednesday, which is normally my mummy/art day, I did nothing. Luckily my kids were in great moods and happy to play with Thomas the tank engine or Duplo so I could sit in silence on the couch as reading hurt, using the computer hurt and TV hurt.

At 3pm I decided enough was enough and I had a chocolate Freddo to try and raise my blood sugar levels (which are obviously used to being at quite high levels) and some yummy toast with vegemite. And within an hour my headache was gone and I finally felt alive again.

So I might try a more gradual change in reducing some of the bad (but yummy) stuff in my diet rather than getting all enthusiastic and trying to cut everything out at once. Incidentally my 18 month old daughter has a new name for food which is "yummy". She stands in the pantry, calls to me, looks up and says "yummy? yummy?". She likes her food.

And the flower photo is just one I took a few months ago and re-found today and thought I would put in here to look pretty.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Carter - carbon pencil portrait

WIP Joy - Carbon Pencil on Arches HP A4

Yesterday afternoon my children were happy and best friends (makes it an easier day than when they are not best friends) so I pulled out my camera and got heaps of beautiful photos including heaps of them both together.

Carter was enjoying the posing and one photo caught this expression which I had to draw. So last night when watching Quantum Solace (pretty damn average) I started on this one. I still have some refinement to go and there are some areas that are not quite right yet but I will let it simmer for a few days and then make the final adjustments. Carter and I had some quality Mummy/Son time this morning when we went to The Wiggles concert and it was fabulous. I don't think Carter quite believed it when he saw the Wiggles come out onto the stage and we had great seats, on the floor, 11 rows from the front so he was completely blown away.

On other news, on Friday, Sophia Elise, Julia Dungan and I spent time painting, preparing and sending out the packs for this year's NZ Art Guild Collaborative project. I'm really excited about what the end version will look like and just need to figure out what I will paint on my piece. This year the entire profit from the auction of the artwork will go towards the Mental Health Foundation and it feels really good to be involved with a great organisation that doesn't get any government funding. So stay tuned and I am sure I will be posting images once it is all put together (which is when my lovely practical husband comes into play) and is all unveiled!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The night closes in - another resin piece

The night closes in - mixed media and resin 4" x 4"

Life has been busy busy busy which is why my posting has become somewhat erratic. I have been doing a heap of work on my new business which I hope to launch in a few months time. As you may be aware, I am an Human Resources Consultant in my other life (apart from being Mummy, artist and accounts lady/landlord for our property businesses) and I am now moving more into the area of Career Coaching. I am currently developing my workshops and material and doing stacks of research and I have also got into the Enterprise Training Programme which means I can attend business workshops in areas such as Marketing, Pricing and Costing, Branding etc, and all for free! Yes, the New Zealand Government pays the training providers to provide this training for the owners of small and medium sizes businesses (if you meet the criteria and complete a business assessment) and it is fully funded from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

I went on the first course this Wednesday which was developing a marketing plan and it was excellent. I can also see how these skills can also transfer to my art if I decide to really start marketing it.

I am still completely into resin and the piece above is a small 4" x 4" which is a really nice size to play with. I resined 6 pieces on the weekend and I have a number more in progress so hopefully soon I will have enough to replace my art at Cafe Apollo with this series.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Production Factory

I am currently enjoying some blissful silence as everyone in this household is currently asleep except for me. I am dreading the day when Carter no longer needs his daytime sleep as that is my sanity break and art break during the day and I really enjoy it.

I know I have been silent on this blog for over a week but life has been very very busy. We got some good news re our business stresses and I am all signed up, accepted and booked in for some business courses through the NZ Trade and Enterprise Scheme for my own business and the direction I am heading in for that. So life is good, kids are happy, boisterous and messy and I am working on heaps of small mixed media resin pieces all at once and feeling like a production factory.

It does make sense to work this way as it is much more efficient as each of these pieces require multiple glazes and layers and layers of paint and ink before they are ready to resin which also means lots of drying time. However it is strange to move from different pieces all the time which is why I feel factory-like.

I am over-due to replace my art at Cafe Apollo and I wanted a consistent theme so I have decided to have a full range of these resin abstracted-landscape and seascape pieces and also have quite a few smaller pieces which will then be lower in price and more suitable for the cafe environment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tranquility and the art of juggling

Thomas day at Glenbrook last Sunday - Carter's best day out ever
Another strange blog post title but pertinent to my current state of mind when I think about my life and how much it has changed since I had children. Two and a half years ago exactly today, I was finishing my very last day doing an HR contract at Bendon. I had loved that contract and enjoyed every second of it and while it was originally intended to be 5 weeks, it turned into 5 months with me finishing at 4pm on the 11 September 2006. Why do I remember that date, well because at 4am on the 12 September 2006 I woke up thinking, yep think this is it and later that day Carter arrived and rather angrily screamed his displeasure for his first fifteen minutes of life on the outside. Then when he was just over 4 months old, I found to my surprise that his sister had sneaked into being and I was 6 weeks pregnant.
So, as you can imagine, life changed substantially with one baby and then having another one 4 days before Carter turned one, meant it changed even more.
However that first year (which I had two years in a row) is now over and I am enjoying having two munchkins and it is quite freeing to think that I don't have to have any more unless I really do get a strong urge (which is nowhere in sight at this point of time) and this year I do feel like I have more control of my life, even though it is an absolute juggling act and I feel like I am several different Melissa's depending on what day it is and what I need to do that day.
This year the kids are in daycare 3 days a week, which are then my work days. At least half a day I do the boring horrid accounting related stuff for our construction and property businesses. I don't enjoy it but I do get a sense of achievement when it is up to date and knowing that all tax and gst is sorted and accounted for. The rest of the 3 days are a mixture of doing some small HR contracts (which bring in some money) and working on my business plan, materials, programmes etc for the business I want to launch later this year (which of course brings in no money at the moment).
Wednesday and Friday are my two kid days so Wednesday (today) is lots of playing with kids and painting and drawing while supervising them playing with each other. With studying art part-time, I have to log 15 hours per week so I need to juggle that within these two days and then evenings and weekend. Wednesday is also when I try and find some interesting resources and reference material for the NZ Art Guild as I am a moderator on the forum as well as providing hands-on support to Sophia Elise the manager of the guild here in Auckland, and on Friday I try and catch up with friends and have play dates with our kids.
So it is a juggle, and while some weeks go to plan, other weeks just don't and nothing gets done in their allocated space. The "mummy guilt's" are part and parcel of juggling and I got them the worst time ever when I didn't make the Christmas party at daycare last December because I had meetings that I couldn't shift. And it makes me feel sometimes like I don't know how to define who I am because there are so many facets of my life that don't necessarily come across as interconnecting, but they do because they have to and because it is me. So today, here I am in my "mummy clothes" which now have dried banana and snot (not mine) over them. I have blue paint on my forehead and in my hair from when I was dashing up to the studio to do some glazes earlier.
Tomorrow is work day again, and I will be completing the work on a small contract I am doing. I will drop the kids at daycare, come straight home into my office and focus all day without having to have one eye constantly surveying the location and activities of each child. If I need to meet someone, I can pull on a business suit and feel like I am professional Melissa again, far removed from the snot and paint camouflage I have on today.

And yes, better mention Tranquility, well, that is the title of this resin piece which is the fourth piece that got hung at the Mercure Winsdor Hotel on Monday. And I guess tranquility and fulfillment is what we are searching for isn't it. At the end of the day, business stresses and juggling aside, I really like my life. I don't want to work full-time as I enjoy my days with the kids and yet being a full-time Mum would drive me crazy. Working part-time and also being my own boss works for me and has enabled me to have the time to be creative and escape through my art. Now I can't imagine going a week without drawing or painting. But I don't want to work as an artist (although that may change in the far off future), as I am fulfilled by being good in my professional career, balanced by art and my beautiful children (who would be even more beautiful if they would stop talking in their room and go to sleep!).
So while life is a juggle, I like all the balls I have in the air, so it's all good!